School-based physical therapy (PT) is a related services included in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children 3 to 22 years of age who meet criteria for special education services may be eligible for PT services. Service needs are determined upon completion of a school occupational therapy or physical therapy assessment and IEP team recommendation. School-based occupational therapists and physical therapists share in the decision-making process with the IEP team to determine how to meet the educational needs of individual students.
In the Los Angeles Unified School District, physical therapy primarily focuses on purposeful, goal directed activities that improve a student's functional performance during his/her school day. School-based physical therapists:
What is School-Based Physical Therapy?
- Assess students within their educational setting, using use a comprehensive approach to evaluate and assess a child’s needs in his/her educational environment as well as The Educational Framework for Child Success to determine their needs
- Collaborate with team members, including students, parents, teachers, adapted physical education teachers, psychologists, speech therapists, orientation and mobility specialists, etc.
- School-based physical therapy may include individual or small group treatment, consultation, monitoring or environmental adaptations
- Provide treatment, program consultation, and environmental modifications for students with disabilities to improve performance within the educational environment
School-based physical therapy, which requires a medical diagnosis in order to provide treatment, is a support service to the student's educational program. School-based physical therapists use therapeutic activities that may improve a student's ability to physically access his educational environment. School-based physical therapists assess the following areas:
Physical therapy intervention may include the use of environmental adaptations or assistive equipment.
- Postural control
- Strength and stability
- Motor control and coordination
- Functional mobility and accessibility within the educational environment
- Gross motor skills
The Educational Framework for Child Success (EFCS)
The Educational Framework for Child Success (EFCS) is an expansion of the Ecological Model of Student Performance (EMSP). The EMSP emphasizes the importance of the child’s abilities within his or her curriculum in the context of the school environment, but the EFCS also highlights the importance of curriculum; evidenced based practice; team collaboration; and ongoing as well as future postsecondary child outcomes.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Physical Therapy Program consists of a growing staff of state licensed physical therapists. Many of the therapists on staff also hold a Master's or Doctoral degree. The staff members come from diverse backgrounds and have experience in a variety of settings. Some therapists are actively involved in research, teach university level courses, and have published literature related to the field of physical therapy. Additionally, District therapists participate in ongoing continuing education training in a variety of clinical areas.
Physical Therapy Position Paper.
333 S. Beaudry Avenue, 18th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 241-6200; Fax: (213) 241-8435